North Korea Announces Nuclear Reactor Restart

While the communist North Korean regime has engaged in a string of bellicose statements of late, US officials have taken pains to point out the divergence of its rhetoric from its actions. On Tuesday, however, KCNA, the official North Korean news agency, announced that the hermit kingdom would resume operations at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which has been dormant since a 2007 diplomatic agreement. This announcement followed an April 1 meeting of the North Korean people’s assembly where the regime reiterated the importance of nuclear weapons to the nation’s military capabilities, analysts who track North Korea and proliferation issues told the Daily Report on April 2. Restarting the reactor is meant to ease the country’s electricity shortage and improve the “quality and quantity” of the nation’s nuclear forces, said KCNA, according to western press reports. Asked about this development in a briefing on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said the North Korean announcement contradicts Pyongyang’s commitments and violates its international obligations. North Korea has the choice to “abide by its international obligations” or “pursue a different path,” said Little. “We think the right path is one of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.” (Little transcript) (See also Reuters report.)